Little Kitty

I fell for her beautiful blue eyes on the no-kill shelter page.  We were going to finally move into an apartment that allowed pets and I started cat shopping early.  She was still there the day we got the apartment.  We went to the shelter before we even moved our furniture because I was so anxious to get you.

When we got there, you were in one of the rooms with the big adult cats.  You were so tiny and yellow.  You wouldn’t eat or groom yourself because you were so scared of all the other animals.  While we were there a volunteer got her to eat some soft food by giving her her own dish away from everyone else.  She was really still a kitten– not even a year old.  But she’d had three little boys (adopted out) already.  That meant she’d never get very big.  And she was a great mamacat taking good care of them.  She’d been found in a box near a dumpster.  (She liked boxes.  The smaller the better. We called her box kitty sometimes.)

We took her home with the friendly Big Kitty we also picked out that day.  She hid for a while in a built-in cupboard.  At lunch I gave her some chicken and she became my best friend in the entire world.  By morning she’d cleaned herself up and her previously yellowed fur was bright white and she was so energetic.

She didn’t really know how to cat.  She learned a lot from Big Kitty, even though Big Kitty never particularly wanted to be friends.  (They had a nose touching en passant relationship, but no more.)  In the night we would hear these terrifying screeching sounds– it was usually silent Little Kitty practicing meowing.  She also liked to play ball in the night.  She escaped from the apartment once and led us on a not at all merry chase around the neighborhood.  She was very good at jumping fences.  Enormous height for such a little kitty.  We eventually got her on a halter.

She didn’t really like to be carried (though she allowed me to carry her so long as she’d get a treat right after), and she wasn’t crazy about people coming up to pet her.  One doesn’t pet the Little Kitty, the Little Kitty pets you.  Headbonks were her favorite, and we would have a nighttime routine in which she would visit us before we fell asleep for headbonks and pettings.  When it got really cold she might consent to be a lap kitty or to curl up on the same bed or couch as another cat (not touching).

Back when we had big computer monitors, her favorite spot was on top of mine.  When we moved to flat screen, she had to move in front, which she didn’t like as much.

She was the sweetest and most trusting of kitties.  Once she got into our chimney and was so trusting as we gave her a bath.  She’d look up to us as if to say she didn’t understand what was going on, but she trusted us to make it better (and to provide treats after any indignity).

She moved with us to our new job and loved the patio.  She loved our backyard (we still had to keep her on a halter because she was so good at jumping even the tallest of fences).

When we had a surplus of backyard cats she mostly stayed aloof and out of the fray.  She seemed to miss Big Kitty when Big Kitty passed and never really got into a nose sniffing relationship with Nice Kitty, the remaining backyard cat.

As she got older she got indigestion and then more recently ear infections that would go away and then come right back after treatment ended.  Then one morning she couldn’t walk straight and the vet found a tumor in her ear canal.  We drove to the closest vet school and determined it was inoperable and would not be a candidate for chemotherapy.  Radiation could be done, but there was no evidence that radiation without surgery worked at all in cats, and at most it would slow the tumor’s growth, not stop it or shrink it and she would have to go to the vet regularly which she hated.  So we prepared for hospice.

Cancer is not a pretty way to go.  But little kitty was so resilient as every new disability affected her.  She learned how to walk straight and deliberately with each new hit to her sense of balance.  She submitted calmly to baths and ear cleaning with minimal complaint.  She chomped down her medicine in pill pockets until she couldn’t chew and swallow anymore and then sort-of allowed us to dose her with the fruit-flavored and heavily sugared liquid versions of the pain killers and steroids that she hated.  We’d think it would be time and then she would figure out that she could get water from the faucet, or she’d figure out a new way to get treats to her throat and that would buy another week or so.  She would curl up on the patio or knead DH’s chest and purr, despite it all.  But each time she got better it wouldn’t be as good as it was before and each worse was a new low.  And finally, as the vet predicted, she couldn’t eat anymore, not even baby food, and we couldn’t let her starve to death or force her to submit to a feeding tube and she suddenly stopped getting joy out of her favorite things and we had to let her go.  Which is heartbreaking.

Death is hard, whether it is sudden and unexpected or following a slow deterioration.

Little kitty has brought so much joy.  Fifteen years was just not long enough for our sweet little girl.

Little kitty in better days

 

 

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Little kitty was overgrooming because she had dual ear infections

The headline is basically the story.  Little kitty was basically giving herself a buzzcut through overgrooming.  She also kept avoiding us touching her ears.  We worried it was allergies (she’s already on prescription food for her ideopathic too-much-calcium) or anxiety (we already have one cat on Prozac).  But the vet cleaned out her ears and gave her ear goop to fight the infections.  Within two days her ears felt better and within a week it was noticeable that she was no longer over-grooming.  So, whew.

Have you had any experience with pet overgrooming or ear infections?

Random life updates

Do any of you follow the story threads of our lives and then wonder what happened since we forgot to update?  Here’s some updates:

Little Kitty’s IBS and health:

  • She had idiopathic elevated calcium levels (meaning they don’t know why).  This was the best possible outcome since the other outcomes where they know were all bad.  First she got steroids for two weeks.  Then she got taken off the hydrolized diet and put on a low calcium diet and now her tummy seems to be all better.  No more IBS even when she steals her favorite people food (chicken).  It is mysterious.
  • Once her calcium levels got balanced, she got to have her teeth cleaned.  Unfortunately 7 teeth also had to be pulled.  Also it is insane how even though these costs are expensive, they are waaay less expensive than costs of the same thing in paradise.

DH’s relatives:

  • The one with the abusive baby daddy has moved back home.  She’s not getting along with her dad because he says she frequently does dangerous things when taking care of her son and he tells her not to.  Her step-mom is doing well with chemo and is really enjoying taking care of the baby while her step-daughter works at the Walmart a few towns over.  I have no idea how the menu planning stuff went down or if now that the oldest girl is back she’s taken over some of the responsibilities.
  • The other one who was a teen mom is still living with her two kids with her husband near her biological mom across the country.  She seems to be doing fine.

Kitty saga:

  • I don’t think I ever mentioned this, but my sister ended up taking a second kitten from our back-yard cat saga since we were only allowed to take two cats with us to Paradise.  Her two still love each other and my sister seems to have bonded with them.  Problem:  her new roommate brought a bully cat and boy kitty started peeing on things in protest.  So now her two cats stay in her bedroom suite during the day, mostly sleeping while the bully cat roams the rest of the house.  :(

DC1 at public school:

  • In the end, DC1 transitioned well to public school for 5th grade in Paradise.  I think it was good that it was still an elementary school.
  • Zie seems to be doing fine at middle school for 6th grade so far this year.  Zie has to do some testing to get admitted to the GT pull-out program.   One of hir friends from private school is in orchestra with hir, which helps.  They should both transition from 5th grade orchestra to 6th grade orchestra at the semester.  (DC1 decided against another year of trumpet, which means zie has to have weekly violin lessons to ease the transition since zie is a year behind.  Zie is surprisingly not that awful– much better than my memories of that first year of my sister practicing.)
  • Zie tested into 7th grade advanced math, which is really nice.  This and orchestra are two big advantages over private school.  I do miss having a foreign language though.  DC1 had Spanish as an after school program last year (they also had French, but only for native speakers(!), so we dropped that), but it doesn’t appear that anything like that is available here.
  • The after school program is cheap ($115/mo and goes until 6:30pm) and the bus stop is literally at the corner of our house.  For now we’re doing after school instead of having hir take the bus home so we don’t have to worry about hir being latch-key when DH is out of town for work.  The law in our state is vague… it basically says, you’re ok so long as something bad doesn’t happen, but if something bad happens you made the wrong decision.  If we still had a home phone I’d feel a bit better about a latch-key situation.  If we do go latch-key DC1 will need a cell-phone.

DC2:

  • Returning to the Montessori here has been great.  So great we decided not to start K this year and to leave hir in Montessori another year.  Then we may skip K next year if zie doesn’t get into the dual-language program.  We’re playing it by ear a year at a time.
  • Zie really does miss hir friends, but many of them were heading off to public school anyway (either K or Pre-K), so…  And we’re happy zie is back to more academics and less of the creepy religious stuff.  (Nothing against non-creepy religious stuff, but even though DC1 and DC2 both attended a year of preschool from the same Lutheran branch, DC1’s was not at all creepy and DC2’s was full of not preschool appropriate stories.  Just comparing the children’s bibles they each got was pretty crazy.  Like, it wasn’t our imagination.)  Hir reading and math abilities have skyrocketed since we got back.

I think those are the big things in my online blog persona life.  If anybody cares.

Costs of sick kitties

Little Kitty needed to get her teeth cleaned.  So DH took her to the vet.

Before they could give her anesthesia, they had to do $600 worth of tests.

Unfortunately, one of the tests came back with elevated calcium levels.  So no anesthesia.  No teeth cleaning.

Instead, more tests.

First, a test for what kind of elevated calcium it was, since only the ionized kind is bad.   $214.70 and a few days time for the calcium test.

She has elevated ionized calcium.  :(

The next step is to see if she has parathyroid problems or stomach cancer.  Test for parathyroid:  $950.  Ultrasound for cancer:  $1000.  (Plus a few days to work up the estimates.)

That’s a lot of money.

So our next step is to ask what the treatment options are if either of these cost money, and what those treatments will do to Little Kitty.  If they’re things that can be fixed with minimal harm to her, then we’ll pay for the tests and the treatment.  But if they’re things where the treatment is as bad as the disease, then well, it might be best not to know.  Because kitties don’t understand what’s going on with them and they’re not gaining an additional 30 years with a successful cancer treatment, especially not older kitties.

Right now Little Kitty seems to be in high spirits.  Other than being a bit skinny and the occasional bout of IBS whenever she eats something she shouldn’t, she *seems* fine.

Still, the parathyroid thing would explain the IBS.  And elevated calcium levels do need to be treated so as not to cause problems with the kidneys.

If these $2000 turn up nothing, there will probably be more tests.  If they turn up something, then there will be more money for treatment (probably surgery, according to Dr. Google).  How much money is too much?  What is Little Kitty’s life worth?

Right now we’re fortunate to be able to say that Little Kitty is more important than a kitchen renovation.

It is going to be an expensive summer.

Kitty IBS

About a year ago (before the move), our older kitty, Little Kitty started throwing up occasionally and having diarrhea.

We took her to the vet.

The vet recommended prescription high fiber food.  She refused to eat it (and so did all our other kitties).  We gave up.  I looked online and found that fancy feast had suddenly started to make many kitties sick, so we stopped giving fancy feast.  We bought high quality one dollar per can catfood.  We switched back to the Purina One sensitive systems catfood we’d kept primarily because it was the only thing that didn’t make our late Big Kitty throw up.

We moved.  Little Kitty started throwing up more and having constant super stinky diarrhea.

We took her to another vet.  The vet diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome.

Step 1:  Try single protein catfood for a week or two.   We went through a number of these.  They did not help.  Mackerel seemed to do better (not perfect), but it was only available at the whole foods several towns away and you’re not supposed to feed cats exclusively on fish.  We also tried human grade food available at the grocery (chicken, beef), but that didn’t help.  In fact, poultry seemed to bring out the worst symptoms.

Step 2:  Try exotic single protein catfood with different carbs (like peas!).  We tried venison.  No luck.  We tried Quail.  No luck.  I think we tried some other birds.  We tried really hard to find a pet shop willing to source rabbit (or kangaroo) in a smaller size than a flat, but although they could order rabbit they kept not ordering it (possibly because rabbits are pets and not catfood, but they didn’t want to you know, flat out refuse.  Or possibly incompetence.)

Nice kitty started losing weight.  We took her back to the vet.

Step 3:  Hydrolyzed prescription hard catfood.  For this they do something to chicken that is like what they do to cow milk in baby formula.  After a couple weeks it seemed to help.  She’s still not perfect, but she throws up less, her poo is more solid (though disturbingly singl-colored).  She’s still skinny, but not frighteningly so.

That, however, is not the end of this story.  More next Monday ($ is involved…)

Cute kitten pictures!

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Would you rather

have

a dog that will not stop barking all night (whether inside or out, though if outside the neighbors will call the police ~10pm)

or

a cat that occasionally pees on things that are not hir litterbox (for example, your bedspread or the couch)?

Why?  (Answers do not need to be in Haiku.)